NLC disinvestment politics – An Analysis

Last week, the Union cabinet decided to disinvest 10% stake in the Neyveli Lignite Corporation (NLC). As expected the announcement was besieged in a storm of protests by the Left parties. This move also has important repercussions in Tamil Nadu politics.

Immediately after the announcement, the ADMK chief Jayalalitha lashed out at the Centre’s move and announced agitations in the state. She sees this as an opportunity to align the ADMK closer with the Left parties in order to forge a ‘Third Front’ at the Centre. This will also allow the ADMK to break the UPA allaince in the state and build up a grand coalition against the DMK and the Congress for the next Lok Sabha election. Further to complicate things for the DMK, the NLC employees announced agitations and invited Jayalalitha to head the protests. The former chief minister is most likely to accept this invitation and spear head the agitation.

Sensing things getting out of control, the DMK chief and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Karunanidhi immediately asked the Centre to reconsider its decision to disinvest 10% stake in NLC. He personally wrote a letter to this effect to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. He also announced that the DMK’s labour wing will participate in the agitations by the NLC employees. While Karunanidhi has for the moment prevented the ADMK from cosying up with the Left parties, he will definitely be worried about Jayalalitha’s step to form a Third Front at the Centre.

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